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Bruce Lee’s daughter lashes out over dad’s portrayal in ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’

(L-R) Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth and Mike Moh as Bruce Lee in Quentin Tarantino's ninth film, 'Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.'.
(L-R) Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth and Mike Moh as Bruce Lee in Quentin Tarantino's ninth film, 'Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.'. Sony Pictures

NOTE: Major spoilers ahead. Do not read if you haven’t seen Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

Bruce Lee‘s daughter, Shannon Lee, has hit out against Quentin Tarantino for his portrayal of her late father in the filmmaker’s ninth and latest movie, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

During an interview with the Wrap, Lee, 50, said she saw the movie last Sunday, adding that it was a “disheartening” experience.

“It was really uncomfortable to sit in the theatre and listen to people laugh at my father,” she said.

The scene to which the younger Lee was referring involves a fight between her father and the fictional Hollywood stunt double Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt).

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(L-R) Shih Kien and Bruce Lee in 1973’s Enter the Dragon.
(L-R) Shih Kien and Bruce Lee in 1973’s Enter the Dragon. CP Images Archive

The Enter the Dragon star was portrayed by Asian-American actor Mike Moh, who, in the film, picks a fight with Booth after being made fun of on set.

In the film, the martial arts master loses the fight after only two rounds by being thrown violently into the side of a car.

READ MORE: ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’ review — Quentin Tarantino gets introspective

Lee said her father was not known for being cocky or hot-headed, arguing that was “not how he was.”

“He comes across as an arrogant a–hole who was full of hot air and not someone who had to fight triple as hard as any of those people did to accomplish what was naturally given to so many others,” Lee added.

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“I can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie. I understand that the two characters are anti-heroes, and this is sort of like a rage fantasy of what would happen… and they’re portraying a period of time that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion.”

(L-R) Mike Moh and Brad Pitt arrive for the premiere of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX in Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif., on July 22, 2019.
(L-R) Mike Moh and Brad Pitt arrive for the premiere of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX in Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif., on July 22, 2019. Nina Primmer / EPA

“I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character this super bada– who could beat up Bruce Lee,” she continued. “But they didn’t need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive.”

Lee suggested Tarantino, 56, might have been trying to accurately portray how her father was stereotyped by the film industry back in the 1960s, however she said “it doesn’t come across that way,” adding that she believed “he was directed to be a caricature.”

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Throughout the years, Tarantino has expressed his admiration for Lee, not only vocally but through the portrayal of martial arts in several of his films, including the two-part Kill Bill franchise.

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Lead actress Uma Thurman even wears a replica of Lee’s infamous yellow jumpsuit throughout the majority of the Kill Bill movies.

After seeing Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, there were a number of Tarantino fans who were also left disappointed by the filmmaker’s portrayal of Lee.

Here’s what some Twitter users had to say:

“I think it’s f–ked up that Tarantino never contacted Bruce Lee’s daughter/family for consent for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (but contacted Sharon Tate’s) then proceeded to do Lee dirty in the movie,” wrote another Twitter user.

“I’m seeing a lot of POC react negatively to the disrespectful portrayal too,” the social media user added.

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On being cast as Lee, Moh, 35, told the Hollywood Reporter that the role was exactly “what I had been waiting for.”

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“As a kid growing up in suburban Minnesota, I was one of the only Asian kids so I was the class clown and a big part of that was me wanting to fit in,” Moh said.

“Then I saw Bruce Lee and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy can kick a–, the girls want him, he is super-strong and confident.’ I hadn’t seen someone like that before.”

WATCH: ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’ trailer

‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ trailer
‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ trailer

“What I’m interested in is raising the consciousness of who Bruce Lee was as a human being and how he lived his life,” Lee added. “All of that was flushed down the toilet in this portrayal and made my father into this arrogant punching bag.”

Shannon Lee is the president of the Bruce Lee Foundation as well as the CEO of Bruce Lee Entertainment.

Global News has reached out to a representative of Quentin Tarantino seeking comment on Lee’s statement and the overall backlash.

‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’ is now playing in theatres across Canada.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca